Foundlings & Irish Twins

They found me in a box.

The box was left in a vacant apartment building across the street from the ocean in Virginia Beach, and from what they could tell, it was only a few hours after my birth.

I spent most of my first week of life recovering in an incubator from being left out in the cold.  After I was released from the hospital, I was placed in a foster home to allow for any of my biological family members to come forward to claim me as well as to make sure I didn’t have any medical issues (physical and/or mental).

Back in the 70s, foster parents weren’t allowed to adopt children because they were supposed to only be a short-term placement for children. My first foster parents were forced, by a court order, to have me removed from their home because they were under the incorrect assumption that they could adopt me because I was a foundling. I was almost two months old when I was placed in another foster home.  A couple of weeks later, my future parents were notified by Virginia Social Services that if they met an employee at a motel in Virginia Beach, they could adopt me and take me back to Williamsburg, VA.   

The date was April 20th, 1974, exactly two months from the day I was found.

My adopted dad was a law and history professor at William & Mary for many years. When received a higher position at the University of South Carolina, our family moved to Columbia, SC where I spent the rest of my childhood. 

I have always been the extrovert of the family when compared with my adoptive parents and sister. And aside from the tragic death of my adoptive Mother from cancer when I was six years old, I had a great childhood thanks to my adoption. I always felt very lucky and very much a part of the family.

That said, I only knew one other adopted person while growing up, and the whole, ‘not being worthy to keep’ issue was hard. Finding out about the whole abandonment issue when I was 21 years old was even harder. But things have really come full circle over the past 10 months.

After receiving a DNA test for Christmas from my in-laws, I was interested in finding out what my ethnic makeup would be after many guesses over the years. My test results were processed March 15th, 2017, I was notified that I am 68% Irish (never would have guessed that before now) and that I had an immediate sibling match. Amazingly, I had a full sister, also abandoned at birth as a newborn, who was only 11 months older than me and truly my Irish twin. From the minute we first talked on the phone, it’s like we have known each other forever.

With the help of my sister’s genealogist, we have learned who our biological parents are, the fact that we have five half siblings, and have met many aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. We even had the opportunity to have lunch with our biological mother seven months after receiving my test results and two months later, we spent three nights in the ski resort neighborhood she lives in with her husband.  The journey to this point has been crazy, surreal, and amazing wrapped into one big package.

Now, I can look forward to sharing the rest of my life with my sister and her family after 43 years of not knowing of each other’s existence. In fact, it has made me want to help and support adoptees, especially foundlings like myself, as they go on their own DNA testing journey.